IRG 6: Priming Effects in Judgments about Public Policy (completed)

(Bimber, Conroy, Lively)

This project, led by political scientist Bimber, has examined the effects of issue framing on how the US public forms opinions about nano. The group developed a theoretical framework combining research in psychology on cognitive biases with theories of framing in political science and communication and completed an experimental web survey with about 700 subjects in 2010. The results show substantial contrast effects: that is, subjects primed first to think about a technological issue or other public problems tend to view a second, target issue or problem in contrast to the priming issue. They have investigated the effects on certain comparisons of an issue priming effect, in which conspicuous comparison evokes a process of mental contrast, resulting in audiences seeing the target issue as different rather than similar to the issue being compared. These final results of this project are under journal review (Bimber, Conroy and Lively, under review 2013).

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